Interview with Gillian Nicholson, 2008
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Empire of Care oral histories
Scope and Content:
Gillian Nicholson interviewed about welcoming and befriending young women coming to Colchester from abroad to train as nurses.

Part 1

[00:00:00] Gillian explains that first group of three nurses arrived on 1 September 1969. Another three came in December. Felt sorry for the young nurses who had come on their own far away from their families. Remained friends with many over the years.

[00:04:09] Most came in cardigans and jerseys. Shown around the town and made aware of money matters. Recalls one nurse, Ester [Jankey], who arrived aged 19. Now working in London looking after the elderly. Many emigrated to Canada after training. Comments that they cooked lovely curries.

[00:07:54] Had a busy house with five children. Early nurses to arrive included Ranjit and Ester. More came over time, but gradually it tailed off; became busy with her own family. Recalls Ester convalescing with them for a week after contracting meningitis.

[00:09:49] Comments that most of the nurses did not know what to expect in England. Weather challenging, but they soon adapted. Group friendship. Had to work hard, but training was good. People accepted newcomers wholeheartedly. Recruited more volunteers through Mothers' Union groups. Nurses often turned up at her house on their day off, sometimes with friends.

[00:12:30] Describes how one nurse got married after falling pregnant; wore a white top and green skirt, with the reception at Gillian's home.

[00:14:26] Comments that she met up with two nurses, Yvette and Ester, last year. Away from home, nurses were grateful for the company found through the befriending scheme. In case of problems, could also turn to someone other than the hospital. Recalls that student nurses were always tired, and anxious about exams. All girls did well. Many self-funded.

Part 2

[00:00:00] Comments that most of the nurses lived near work; an easy journey. Describes photographs of a surprise 21st birthday party for Ester. Like 'a big family'. Students did not go home during holidays; could not afford to. Recalls that Ester’s parents did visit her.
Dates of Creation:
21 minutes 28 seconds
Creator Name:
Colchester Museums
Admin History:
In 1959 Gillian Nicholson volunteered to provide local support and friendship to overseas nurses coming to train in Colchester. She had previously worked as a secretary at Essex County Hospital before she had a family.
Archivist Note:
Physical Characteristics:
1 MP3 file created from original WAV file
Dates of Description:
28 April 2022
Not Available:
Digital item(s). For access please email ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk